“You guys ready to go down a rabbit hole?” asked bass-prodigy Stephen Bruner, aka Thundercat.
Fans crowded towards the stage at The Triffid in Brisbane (7 March). But, like ‘Alice In Wonderland’, no one was prepared for the musical odyssey we were about to embark on.
Thundercat has had an eclectic career, playing with cosmic, jazz giant Kamasi Washington, metal band Suicidal Tendencies and rapper Kendrick Lamar, the latter he praised during ‘These Walls’.
His own music jumps from one genre to the next, as heard across his brilliant recent album ‘Drunk’, all held together by his virtuosic bass playing.
Playing a six-string bass guitar, Thundercat’s fingers stretched across the wide neck of his instrument. He displayed his genius early on with ‘Uh Uh’, a frantic, jazz-fusion instrumental that saw his fingers sprinting up and down his instrument, his short, red dreadlocks shaking as he nodded his head.
Fans were in awe of his skills; their heads moved with Thundercat’s hands, eliciting wows throughout. Joining Thundercat on stage were drummer Justin Brown and Dennis Hamm on keys.
Lined at the front of the stage, the trio traded looks throughout, giving each other signals for the next movement in their mesh of sounds. The two played just as frantically as Thundercat; Dennis’ fingers played a lightning-fast arpeggio throughout ‘Friend Zone’, while Justin kept his head down and charged into every beat.
The genius musicianship on display was inspired and Thundercat charmed, often unable to finish lyrics due to giggling.
Thundercat dedicated ‘A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II)’ to his cat, who he FaceTimed before the show and led the audience in a chorus of meows.
Excited squeals filled the venue when the three harmonised on the opening of the smooth R&B ‘Show You The Way’. After a verse of his sweet singing, Thundercat raised his right hand and announced: “Ladies and gentlemen, Michael McDonald.”
The thought of the former Doobie Brother elicited screams, but then Thundercat began to giggle. “You really think we could afford to bring out Michael McDonald?” he asked. “He doesn’t even respond to my texts anymore.” It’s a shame, but we still laughed.
We may not have Michael McDonald, but we still had the perfection of the rubber-band funk of ‘Them Changes’.
A number of comments could be heard from fans throughout. “That was f#$%ing nuts,” squealed one. “It’s like a musical orgy,” said another.
No matter the expression, they all shared the same thought: it’s impossible not to be charmed by Thundercat.